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Israel could concede more territory: analyst

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Israel could concede more territory: analyst

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of the need for both sides to make painful concessions.

Mahmoud Abbas said he will pull out of negotiations unless Israel extends the partial freeze on settlement building which expires on the 26th Sept.

But that ‘painful concession’ could prove difficult for Netanyahu, surrounded as he is by pro-settler parties in the coalition.

euronews spoke to Professor Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Jon Davies, euronews:

You know Benjamin Netanyahu, how do you think he is going to be able to make painful concessions when he has such opposition within his own government?

Professor Efraim Inbar:

“There are of course issues in which there is no possibility to make concessions, such as the Palestinian demand for bringing in refugees into Israel, or their demand for controlling the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is the holiest place for the Jews. On those issues Netanyahu is backed by a huge majority of Israelis. And all of us, including myself, are adamant against these kind of concessions. But in terms of territorial concessions I think Netanyahu has a large leeway. And the public is basically supporting the two-state solution and the need to make concessions. And even to dismantle, if necessary, part of the settlements.”

Jon Davies, euronews:

Does that mean that there is room for concessions on the issue of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem?

Professor Efraim Inbar:

“Jerusalem is a very touchy issue. I don’t think Israelis at this stage are ready to concede to Palestinian control in what’s called the Holy Basin around the Temple Mount. There may be a willingness to hand over some Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem but I’m not sure the Arabs in those neighbourhoods really want to become part of the Palestinian Authority. Actually, we hear clear voices among the Arabs in East Jerusalem demanding a referendum because they are not very enticed by becoming part of the corrupt, undemocratic and authoritarian Palestinian entity.”

Jon Davies, euronews:

President Abbas said he thinks the Americans’ one-year deadline is feasible for a peace deal but it seems a desperately short time doesn’t it?

Professor Efraim Inbar:

“Since the Oslo Agreements past already 17 years, and there was no possibility for an agreement, so if it happens in a year I think nobody will be sorry — with the exception of the extremists — but to be realistic I think the issues are quite intractable and it will take more than one year to try to solve those issues. I would advocate a different approach: I think we should go for conflict management rather than try to solve all issues. And to try to limit the suffering in the meantime, rather than to plan grandiose peace which, if it fails, will elicit more bitterness and may bring about a round of violence.”